Equality and Diversity Policy

  1. Introduction

We recognise the value of equality, diversity and inclusion and are committed to celebrating diversity and providing equality of opportunity and fair treatment for all.  Our aim is to create an environment where everyone is treated fairly and with respect regardless of difference.  We wish to promote and embed equality for all of our employees and within the recruitment process for internal and external appointments as well as for clients, visitors and third party suppliers.

Our vision is that the company’s profile will be representative of all sections of society.

The company is committed to:

  • Promoting equality and diversity within the business;
  • Promoting a company that is inclusive for all;
  • Respecting the dignity of everyone within the workforce, clients, third party suppliers and visitors;
  • Actively challenging unacceptable actions and behaviours such as bullying and harassment.

Our commitment to equality will be applied regardless of the protected characteristics of:

  • Age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race religion and belief, sex and sexual orientation.

We oppose all forms of unlawful and unfair discrimination, and any breaches of this policy by an employee will be dealt with via the grievance and disciplinary policy and procedure.

Acts of discrimination, harassment, abuse or victimisation will be treated as a serious disciplinary offence and in some circumstances may be classed as gross misconduct which could lead to dismissal.

This policy is non-contractual and will be subject to amendment and review as legislation and practice codes are introduced and updated.

 

  1. Legislation

The company is committed to complying with the SRA code of conduct and with all current and future anti-discrimination legislation and associated codes of practice, including the Equality Act 2010.

 

  1. Discrimination

Discrimination can take many forms:

Direct discrimination:  treating someone in a less favourable way because they possess a protected characteristic.

Indirect discrimination:  where a policy or practice puts people with a particular protected characteristic at a disadvantage without that policy or practice being objectively justifiable.

Victimisation:  treating someone less favourably because they have complained about discrimination or harassment, or given evidence or information when someone else has complained about discrimination or harassment.

Harassment:  unwanted behaviour which is physical, verbal or can be communicated via non-verbal gestures or via written communications.  Such behaviour is linked to a protected characteristic and violates someone’s dignity or creates a humiliating or offensive environment.

Discrimination by Association:  occurs where a victim of discrimination does not have a protected characteristic but is discriminated against because of their association with someone who does e.g. the parent of a disabled child.

Discrimination by Perception:  occurs when there is discrimination against someone because of a belief that they have a protected characteristic, whether they have it or not.

 

 

  1. Recruitment

The company recognises the benefits of having a diverse workforce and ensures that it attracts and recruits from the widest pool of qualified candidates.  It will also ensure that there is equality of opportunity at all stages of the recruitment process.

Job advertisements will state that the company is an equal opportunities employer, and any publicity relating to the company and its employment opportunities will make reference to the equality, diversity and inclusion policy.

Selection criteria and processes will be free from bias and the selection of employees will be on merit only.

All recruitment agencies acting for the company will be provided with a copy of the quality, diversity and inclusion policy and will be required to adhere to it when acting on the company’s behalf.

Employees responsible for recruitment will receive training and/or guidance in equality, diversity and inclusion.

 

  1. Conditions of service

The company will treat all employees equally and create a working environment which is free from discrimination and harassment, and which respects the diverse backgrounds and beliefs of employees.  The terms and conditions of employment and the provision of benefits will be applied fairly and equitably to all employees.

Time off for religious reasons will be considered in line with the requirements of the business.

Pay will be monitored to identify any gender pay gap present in the organisation.  Action will be taken to remove any pay imbalance, which is not solely based upon the duties and responsibilities allocated to the individuals concerned.

 

  1. Promotion

Promotion and other employment opportunities, such as transfer or secondment, will be open and accessible to all, and based solely on merit.

 

  1. Training

All employees will have equal access to training and other career development opportunities appropriate to their role, experience and abilities.

 

  1. Dealing with clients and third parties

The company is under no obligation to accept instructions from any particular client, however the company must not refuse to act based on discriminatory grounds.  Full details of the basis by which instructions may be refused are detailed in the company’s Quality Manual.  However, to summarise, this will typically occur when the services required are:

  • Outside the scope of the company’s specialisms;
  • Where the client has a prior history of unacceptable conduct or failure to make agreed payments;
  • Or where conflicts of interest arise.

When giving instructions to counsel or instructing other third parties to act on or provide services to the company, these instructions should be made on the basis of the relative skill, experience and abilities of these third parties – failure to instruct a third party must not be made on the grounds of the protected characteristics outlined above.

Whilst the company will normally comply with a client’s request to instruct a named counsel, a client who requests that counsel should either be, or not be, of a particular protected characteristic, will be asked to modify their instructions and in the event that they refuse to do so, the company will cease to act.

 

  1. Bullying and harassment

We will not tolerate any bullying or harassment and will treat all occurrences of it seriously.

Bullying is described by ACAS as: offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour. An abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient. Harassment is described as unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.

All employees are strongly encouraged to report instances of bullying and harassment and will be supported appropriately.  Anyone found to have perpetrated such actions will be subject to disciplinary and grievance procedures and could be dismissed.  For further details please see the company’s bullying and harassment policy and procedure available on the company’s intranet site.

 

  1. Monitoring and review

This policy will be monitored and reviewed by the company annually (or more frequently if required) to ensure that it meets with current legislation and is working effectively within the organisation.  In addition, the company will monitor and analyse recruitment, conditions of employment, promotion, equal pay, training opportunities and instructions received by clients and given to their parties under the guidance of this policy to ensure equality of opportunity for staff.

 

  1. Grievance, disciplinary and dismissal

The company will treat seriously any grievance raised on the grounds of discrimination.  Action will be taken accordingly under the guidelines of the company’s grievance and disciplinary policy and procedure.

 

  1. Implementation arrangements

We are committed to the implementation of this policy and will ensure the following actions take place:

  • Training on equality, diversity and inclusion will be provided for employees at all levels within the company;
  • All employees will be made aware of the equality, diversity and inclusion policy and of how they can obtain a copy;
  • All new employees will receive a copy of the equality, diversity and inclusion policy at induction;
  • Agency workers, contractors and consultants will be made aware of the equality, diversity and inclusion policy and the expectations of the company in terms of fair and equitable practices;
  • Workforce and applicant monitoring in respect of equality, diversity and inclusion will be conducted and the results utilised to inform the company about future practices.
  • External recruitment agencies involved in searching for applicants or providing temporary staff will be made aware of the equality, diversity and inclusion policy and understand that they will be expected to adhere to it when acting on the company’s behalf.

 

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